WE ARE BUILDING A HOME PT 2: HOW TO BUILD YOUR DREAM HOME
If you would have asked me if I could ever imagine building a home just a few months ago, I would have laughed and said, “no way!” I thought building your own home would be intimidating, way too expensive, and I had no idea where to start. After weighing out the downsides and pluses of building a home, the build had more plus sides than purchasing a pre-owned home (for our situation at least.) Luckily, we are building in a community with developers, so our building experience has been a bit more smooth. I will be talking about the plus sides and the downsides throughout this post, giving you a glimpse into the design process and sharing a few extra tips if you’re on a journey to building your own home. If you haven’t read part one, head over to that blog post first, and see how we got here.
Follow updates on our home build on Instagram at = The Cottage Story!
BUILDING YOUR DREAM HOME
When searching for our new home, we had a few requirements. We wanted a backyard for the dogs, no homes behind us, an open floorplan, windows everywhere, and we didn’t want to put too much work into it after moving in. A move-in ready home with all of our requirements in our dream location was impossible to find in our price range. We gave up looking many times and would go on and off with the home search.
And if you read part one, then you know I never imagined being able to build the dream home over buying one. That is because I had no idea what it took to build a home. I’ve seen people building homes all over social media, but it looked stressful, and it seemed as if it took forever. And don’t be fooled; Every building process is different depending on location, size of the home, and you builders. If we were building a house out in the country with tons of acres, this blog post would look very different. Because we are building in an already developed neighborhood, things will be faster, and we won’t have to worry about hiring any contractors, or doing the tough work
STEPS WE TOOK: BUILDING YOUR DREAM HOME
Many people don’t talk about what it takes to build a house. Instead of only sharing the progress photos, I’m going to try to help you understand the entire process. I know it would have been helpful for us.
- STEP ONE:
Drive around in the area you’d like to live in. For us, that meant driving around in one of the newer developments going up. There were several builders in the neighborhood, and we ended up talking to both of them. We decided to go with the better fit, and scheduled a meeting to go over our vision, pick out a lot, choose the home, and get an estimate of what the home build would cost. The crazy thing is that it would have been more expensive to buy a home in our preferred neighborhood vs. building one! This was a good sign that building is a great investment in this location.
- STEP TWO:
After thinking it through and going over finances, it was time to chat with a lender. There are a lot of benefits of going through the builder’s preferred lender, which is what we did. You can save money, and it was convenient for us because we banked with them already. If you get approved by the bank for the build and have the money for the first downpayment, you can start to move forward.
- STEP THREE:
We went in for our second meeting with the builders to sign off on everything. We chose our home, the outside elevation, the colors, extra exterior features such as extra windows, and our lot. Luckily, we were able to choose our elevation before the lots next to us were sold. This meant we had first priority over colors and outside elevation. After signing the papers, it was time to put the first down payment on the house.
- STEP FOUR:
We just finished step four last week, which is what I’ll be explaining in today’s blog post. The design studio is super fun and also a bit stressful, so preparation is important. After signing off on the build, you have about two weeks to schedule your first appointment with the design studio. It’s a two-hour appointment to go over all of the extra features you want to include in the house. This get’s expensive, so you have to go in with a vision and stick with it. You’ll get a cost sheet sent to you at the end of it, and then you have a couple of weeks to go over your changes and last-minute thoughts. Every single night, we went over the sheet and changed things around. Just when we thought we were set on something, we had last-minute doubts, and then finally, it’ll all come together. The next appointment in the design studio is about five hours long. It seems like a lot, but it went by so fast, and you truly do need that extra time. This is where we finalized just about everything! You have about a week after the second design studio appointment to put in any last-minute changes.
- STEP FIVE:
It’s time to break ground! We got a call on Monday that was super exciting! Our builders are breaking ground two months early, which means our home will be ready in Spring! Every week, we will have a call with the builders to go over updates, and we will also schedule walk-throughs.
- STEP SIX:
Once the cabinets go up in the kitchen, we’ll get the call that our home will be ready to close in 30-days! We will do a final walk-through, and if everything looks good, we’ll put down the last payment, and move in!
Not as intimidating as you thought, right?
THE DESIGN STUDIO: OUR EXPERIENCE & WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
It helps to come in prepared, know your vision, and plan to change your mind! Choosing design options can get stressful when you’re trying to match things up to your inspiration boards, but deep breathes and patience will help.
Walk through the model-home
If you can, walk through the model-home of the house you choose! Pay attention to their details and write down what you love and what you don’t love. Take note of outlet placing, the way it lights up, and take a trip over there to see the house at night. Lighting is important!
Go over all of the design features and pricing before your first appointment:
Time is essential when you’re in your first meeting, so come prepared, and have a knowledge of what you want, and what things cost. There are so many design options, and going back and forth, grabbing prices can take up too much time. Look through options and take notes before going in. I spent a week putting together all of the design features we wanted and bringing that into the studio, and that helped so much.
When you pick out the house, most things that come into the house will be about a level one or a level two. The higher the level, the more expensive, but sometimes going up a level could be as little as a $100 upgrade, so don’t rule out the higher levels just because you think it’ll be too expensive. Explore all of those options. We had a priority list of what features in our home would be a higher level, and which features could be lower level. Also, pay attention to what features add value to your home, and go with the higher level such as floors, kitchen, windows, etc. Some levels can be thousands of dollars apart, so understanding level costs before you go into the design studio will help you eliminate unwanted expenses.
You must have a vision!
I couldn’t imagine going into a design studio without having a vision. I would have been all over the place. I created Pinterest boards for my bathroom, living room, kitchen, bedrooms, hallways, and every idea possible. You’ll be able to match flooring or colors to your inspiration boards in the studio, and that’ll help you stick to one theme and prevent yourself from being all over the place. I found myself going from farmhouse to something different while choosing features. We are going for a mid-century modern home with a splash of traditional. You should prepare yourself to be openminded because they may not always have something you want. There were many times where I had to switch ideas around when my options weren’t available.
Turn to the professionals:
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and or ask the opinion of the design studio manager. They have been through this process so many times that they are the ones to turn too when you’re stuck. They know what grout, tile, floors, and features look the best because they’ve seen it all. Our design studio manager was the best! You could also hire a designer to go into the design studio with you. Our neighbors did that, and it’s a super-smart route to go if you’re lost in the process or feeling overwhelmed.
In the photo above, I added my inspiration for the house!
The reason why the design studio process can be overwhelming is because you have to choose these things for each room: carpet, flooring, tile, crown molding, trim, windows, shelves, doors, fireplaces, light fixtures, pre-wire spots, outlets, wall colors, appliances, faucets, bathtubs, railings, HVAC, garage doors, cabinets, countertops, toilets, drawers, and so much more!
Not only do you have to pick out those things, but you also have to choose the levels, the colors, the design, and make sure it fits your design-studio budget. When there are over 50-options of tile, it gets tough! For example, you’d think choosing a fireplace would be pretty straightforward. Well, you get to choose from like ten fireplaces, and then customize the fireplace with color and tile. Bathroom? You have to select shower wall tiles, shower floor tiles, bathroom floor tiles, vanity, vanity lights, faucets, the color of quarts around the tub, type of shower doors, and toilets! Now, times that by how many bathrooms you’re putting in the home! This is why preparation will get you through your design studio smoothly.
The design studio is more than just design!
We met up with CPI during this visit and planned all of our wirings throughout the house! We went over built-in surround sounds, where we’d like all of our electrical boxes, hookups, and discussed our vision for home-security.
Seeing everything come together is going to be worth it!
So what kind of things did we pick out?
As for the kitchen, it’ll be very black and white. We have white quartz, white cabinets, farmhouse sink, white backsplash, gourmet style kitchen, but with black features! Black hardware, black pendant lights, and a black gooseneck faucet.
All of our floors will be super light. The ones I’m standing on in the photo will be really similar to what ours will look like. I’m so excited because I’ always had dark floors, and I’m ready for a change! We will be carrying out the floors up the staircase and down to our master bedroom. The guest rooms and loft will all have soft carpet, which I love.
We opted for ALL the extra windows in the house. Hello, light! And with that, we also got the glass door for the pantry and laundry room.
Our laundry room floor is going to be super fun! I’m holding it in the photo next to the “choose your palette” graphic. We ended up saving thousands of dollars in the laundry room by leaving the sink and the cabinets out. My dad is going to be building custom shelves in there for us, and I think a DIY laundry project will be so much fun. The photo below is our inspiration, and we already have those lights picked out!
We are doing a frosty white color throughout the entire home. and our crown molding/trim will be a few shades whiter. The front study area will be painted a super dark color, and it’ll be where our piano and bookshelves go! There is actually an office off the kitchen that I’ll be using for photography and working.
The outside of our house will be completely white with the cottage planks. We will be adding a lot of modern black detail as well.
Most of our bathrooms will be black and white! I’m so excited for the shower tile with the black dots. If I could have that throughout the entire bathroom floor, I totally would!
Save a few things to do yourself! After going through the design process, we saved a lot of money by planning projects we would do ourselves. We want to add a shiplap to some of the walls, build shelves, painting doors, tile projects, and lighting!
We ended up going with level one on every light fixture in the house! We are going to customize the lighting with fixtures from Kichler! We are in love with their fixtures and they are going to look great with the style we are aiming for. This is is going to be a massive game-changer for all of the rooms. Lighting can make a home stand out. During the design studio meeting, we added all of our pre-wire spots for extra light fixtures. We changed up the garage locations to add the lights above the garage with the gooseneck lamps, added in prewire locations for the laundry room, and mapped out where all of our light fixtures will go! I’ll be sharing everything about the lights during our room reveals!
I am so excited to continue to share the process with you all! And I’m also lucky to have you guys help me through it. I shared a post on my Instagram yesterday, and those polls are so helpful! ♥️ It’s crazy to think that in a few short months, our home will be ready! Eventually, I’ll need some help picking out the furniture! Oh, and if you have any home interior design bloggers you like to follow, please leave their link in the comments!
Questions for you!
- I’ll eventually be selling my home, do you guys want to see posts on how I prepare for the sale and that whole process too?
- What is your design style?
- So is building a home easier than you thought?
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